[Spellyans] The two roles of â (a-circumflex) in Kernowek Standard

A. J. Trim ajtrim at msn.com
Wed Sep 18 22:44:30 IST 2013

So for KS, I would have:

adäl    facing
als    a joint
äls    a cliff
bras    a plot
bräs    great
cän    a song
cänn    a shine (This is an exception.)
cläv    sick
fäls    a sickle / a split / false
glàn    a margin
glän    clean
Gwäv    Winter
gwlän    wool
Häv    Summer
täl    a brow / owes

The above 15 words can be learnt in a day.

The rules for 'â' are now simplified: The length of any vowel is dependent
on its syllabic position, its stress and its following letters. Wherever 'a'
is long but the rules say it should be short, it is marked 'â', else long
'a' is unmarked.

Having the following, as well, is not a problem:
a    verbal particle
â    goes
da    good
dâ / dhâ    thy

You could also have:
à    of / from


Andrew J. Trim

-----Original Message----- 
From: Michael Everson
Sent: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 4:05 PM
To: Standard Cornish discussion list
Subject: Re: [Spellyans] The two roles of â (a-circumflex) in Kernowek

On 16 Sep 2013, at 11:30, Philip Newton <philip.newton at gmail.com> wrote:

> I must say that I find the dual role of "â" (a-circumflex) in KS rather
> confusing. Not only does it indicate anomalous (or unpredictable) length,
> as in _fâss_ or _shâp_, but it also indicates an optional pronunciation
> with
> [ɒ:] ([Q:]) as in _brâs_.

It has three roles. It also serves orthographically to distinguish "â"
'goes' from "a" (particle), and "dâ" 'good' from "da" (variant of "dha").

> I found this confusing because when I see the symbol, I keep having to
> wonder which particular meaning is intended.

Perhaps, but you are expected to learn. It isn't actually very difficult.
And the number of words which use it is not very large.

> I suppose this does account for words such as _brâs, clâv_ since those are
> long anyway, so the â cannot mark length.


> And I suppose it even makes a certain amount of sense in derived words
> such as _brâssa, clâvjy_ (where the "æ/ɔ" is short since it's a
> two-syllable word, but the spelling with "â" is kept from the monosyllable
> as with the "i" in words such as _tir, tiryow; gwir, gwiryoneth_).

In words where the vowel remains long in the polysyllable, the diacritic is
retained: "shâp", "shâpya".

> Even if it is a bit disconcerting to me that _brâssa_ and _fâss_ look so
> similar yet the â has different functions in both. (So you always have to
> know whether it's a derived word or not.)

Again, there are not many of these words, and most of them are of high
enough frequency that you are expected to learn them.

> However, in the KS edition of _Skeul an Tavas_, I see in the pronunciation
> section that _âls_ is to be pronounced "[ælz]~[ɒlz]".

Also "fâls" [fælz]~[fɒlz]

> And that is a situation where this breaks down.
> Followed by two consonants (that aren't "st"), an "a" in that position
> must necessarily be short.

This isn't difficult. We might have to state explicitly the rule to indicate
that these two words in "ls" there is an alternation in pronunciation though
not in vowel length. (Even if one were writing "fåls" and "åls" there would
be anom

> Hence, an "â" in that position must signal unpredictable length… except
> that in this word, apparently, the vowel
> stays short but may have an alternative quality.

As in "brâssa".

> At which point, KS "â" seems nearly as capricious to me as SWF "y" (is
> _bys_ long or short? does _glyb_ rhyme with _ryb_? etc.).

You are over-stating the case; moreover, "â" marks distinctions which are
ignored in the SWF. If there are exceptions, one must judge them by their
difficulty and their number.

> Is it possible to resolve this part of KS in a way which enables one to
> predict the pronunciation of a word unambiguously given the spelling?
> Whether by splitting the two current roles of "â" or in some other way?

No one ever claimed that KS orthography was entirely free from occasional
ambiguity. The question, again, is their nature and scope.

> It might well be, given that much of the discussion was in 2008, five
> years ago. In which case this not-entirely-phonemic corner of the
> orthography must remain, and students encountering an "â" must continue to
> guess.

"Continue to guess"? At what point does one learn?

I am travelling and am not at home with my sources, but I did a quick look
at words with "â" in An Beybel Sans. Out of the 18000 unique word-forms in
the whole book, about 48 of them have "â". (That's 18,000 including
distinctions between "Dâ" and "dâ", so the number of unique words is going
to be somewhat less.)

Words with "â" can be divided into three categories; I give these with also
a count of the number of instances each occurs in the book. Because of a
feature in my concordance software, sometimes words are considered different
because they have -ma or -na appended; the list below also gives a few
possible errors in the Beybel where a diacritic has evidently been left off;
I also do not guarantee that the list below is free of error. It is the
scope of the "problem" that is the point.

1) Orthographic "â" to distinguish these from other common words: (2)

â (38)
Dâ, dâ, dâ-, dâ-ma, dâ-na, dhâ, dhâ-ma, tâ, tâ- (70, 835, 2, 9, 2, 77, 1,
109, 1)

2) Vowels whose length would be expected to be short but which are marked as
long: (33)

acâcya (27)
agât (1)
blâmya, blâmyas, blamys, vlâmya (3, 1, 2, 8)
CÂF (1) 35322
câken, câkys, gâken (8, 8, 4)
câss, câss-ma, câss-na, gâss, hâss (43, 4, 6, 10, 2)
consecrâtya, consecrâtys, gonsecrâtyas (10, 7, 1)
crysoprâs (1) 73358
debâtys (1)
dylâtya, dylâtys, tylâtya (5, 4, 2)
Ewfrâtes (37) 234
fâmya (1)
fâss, [Fassow], [fassow], fâssow (399, 1, 9, 3)
flâtyow, flâtys (1, 1)
Forsâk, forsâkya, forsâkyas, Forsâkyowgh, forsâkyowgh, Forsâkys, forsâkys
(1, 145, 59, 2, 1, 2, 29)
frâmys (25)
frâs, [frasow] (62, 1)
galargân, alargân-ma, galargânow (5, 1, 1)
Grâss, grâss, grâss-ma, grâss-na, grâss-offrydnow, grâss-offryn, grâss (8,
125, 1, 1, 2, 1, 56)
hâtya, hâtyas, hâtyoryon, Hâtyowgh, hâtys (85, 2, 1, 2, 12)
lâss (1) 5439
Nâ, nâ, comondment-ma-nâ, mans-nâ (92, 17, 1)
pâss (3) 17486
plânys (1) 42712
plâss, plâss-ma, plâss-na, plassyow, pednplâss, blâss, flâss (15, 2, 2, 2,
1, 2, 1)
plât, [plat], brestplât, plâtyow, plâtys (17, [1], 31, 2, 1)
separâtya, Separâtyowgh, separâtys (13, 1, 1)
shâmya, [Shamys], shâmys (14, 1, 62)
shâp, Shâpya, shâpya, shâpyas, shâpys (6, 1, 4, 2, 3)
spâss, spâss-ma (52, 1)
stât, stât-na, stâtly, stâtys (13, 1, 1, 2)

3) Vowels where "â" marks a dialectal vowel alternation, usually long but
occasionally short in derivatives: (10)

âls, âls-ma, âlsyow (15, 1, 20)
Brâs, brâs, brâs-ma, brâs-na, brâs-pàn, brâs-saw, Brâssa, brâssa, Brâster,
brâster, brâster-ma, brâstereth, brâsyon, VRÂS, Vrâs, vrâs, vrâs-ma, vrâs,
vrâssa, Vrâster, vrâster, vrâstereth, vrâsyon (36, 962, 21, 3, 1, 1, 4, 87,
2, 33, 1, 4, 9, 1, 1, 216, 4, 15, 4, 15, 7, 9)
Cân, cân, Gân, gân, gân-ma, gân-na, [Ganow], Gânow, [ganow], [ganowow], hân
(33, 31, 1, 10, 11, 1, [1], [1], [196], [3], 3)
Clâv, clâv, clâv-, clâv-oll, glâv (1, 84, 1, 1, 3)
Fâls, [fals], fâls, fâls-cabel, fâls-derivas, fâls-descadoryon,
fâls-dùstuniow, Fâls-dùstuny, fâls-dùstuny, fâls-duwow, Fâls-esperans,
fâls-fara, fâls-gober, fâls-gobrow, fâls-gwarek, fâls-gwreg, fâls-hunrosow,
fâls-lavarow, fâls-profecy, fâls-profettys, fâls-prontyryon, fâls-venyn-na,
fâls-vesyon, fâls-vesyons, fâls-was, fâls-wesyon, fâls-wonesyjy, fâls-yn,
[falsa], [falslych], fâlslych, Fâlsury, fâlsury (3, [4], 82, 1, 1, 1, 2, 1,
3, 4, 1, 1, 9, 4, 2, 1, 1, 1, 3, 1, 2, 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 1, 1, 5, 5, 2, 1, 40)
Glân, glân, [glander], glânder, lân, lânder (4, 136, 1, 2, 1, 3)
Gwâv, gwâv, gwâvas, gwâvy (1, 16, 1, 1)
gwlân, wlân (14, 5)
hâv, hâvy (24, 1)
tâl, dâl, thâl, adâl (15, 12, 8, 83)

Of these 10 words, 3 of them end in -ân (cân, glân, gwlân), 3 of them end
in -âv (clâv, gwâv, hâv), 2 of them end in -âls (âls, fâls), 1 in -âs
(brâs), and 1 in -âl (tâl)

I don't believe that this is too difficult for anyone to learn.

Michael Everson
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